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$1 Million Verdict for Failure to Diagnose Adrenal Insufficiency

A Philadelphia jury has awarded a $1 million verdict to the family of a 46-year-old mother of two against the doctor who allegedly failed to diagnose her chronic adrenal insufficiency.

After a 12-day trial presided over by Judge Gary F. DiVito, the jury found defendant Dr. Harriet Schwarcz negligent and 100 percent responsible, and found defendant Dr. Andrew Quint not negligent.

According to court papers, Deborah Fazio was admitted to Montgomery Hospital in 1991 for pneumonia and dehydration. While there, Quint, an endocrinologist, performed a test on Fazio that ultimately came up positive for adrenal insufficiency. However, Fazio left the hospital without being confirmed of the diagnosis, and neither she nor Quint kept in contact with each other.

After being discharged from the hospital, according to court papers, Fazio consulted Schwarcz, her family physician, who allegedly told her that follow-up meetings with Quint were not necessary.

For eight years following her hospital stay, the plaintiffs contended, Fazio visited Schwarcz more than 40 times, complaining of symptoms consistent with adrenal insufficiency (including fatigue, anorexia, low blood pressure, vomiting and others), but Schwarcz never referred Fazio to an endocrinology specialist. Fazio continued to suffer from her symptoms, and died in 1999.

Attorney Mark W. Tanner  represented the plaintiffs in the matter. William H. Pugh IV of Kane Pugh Knoell & Driscoll in Norristown was counsel for Schwarcz. He said that he and his client are considering appeal options. Michael O. Pitt of Kilcoyne & Associates in Plymouth Meeting was Quint’s attorney in the matter.